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Northeaster Dory by ahb26 - Chesapeake Light Craft - 1:8 scale - small - Finished

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The dories I built for Bowdoin piqued my interest in small open boats.  Coincidentally, I happened upon the link for Chesapeake Light Craft (CLC) in the MSW sponsor list last year.  (They were on the list as recently as December but are not there now.)  CLC's primary business is designing and selling kits for, you guessed it, light craft consisting of pre-cut plywood, many of which are built using a stitch-and glue process.  A few years ago, they started making 1:8 scale kits of a few of their popular boats, starting with this dory.  The kits contain the same components and are built using the same process as their full-scale equivalents.  The process differs from traditional practice in that it does not require a strongback and mold frames; instead, the strakes are stitched together at their edges using thin copper wire, then glued (or epoxied, for the full-scale boats).  It looked interesting so I decided to give it a try.


The CLC site links to construction videos for each of the models they sell.  The Northeaster video is 90 (!) minutes long, with a lot of unnecessary repetition; the others are only 30 minutes and provide the same amount of information.  The hull construction is similar for each of the three kits currently available.


There isn't a lot of emphasis on rigging or fittings in this kit; this leaves a lot of room for additional detailing.  The CLC site has many photos of completed dories (model and full-size) built in-house and by customers to provide inspiration for these details and for paint and woodwork embellishment schemes.  CLC states that the kit can be built in about 10 hours, but that is for a pretty bare-bones effort - I'm sure I'll spend more time than that, possibly just on sanding.

Edited by ahb26
Correct typo.
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So, what's in the box?


Everything is neatly bagged and well protected by a stout cardboard insert.  (The plans and small laser-cut sheet outside the bag are for the optional balanced-lug sail rig I ordered.)


The kit contains four laser-cut sheets, made up of plywood in three thicknesses.  Two spars, two stout mahogany rails (and a spare), some Dacron sailcloth, and, critically, a length of copper wire.  The wire will be used to stitch the strakes together.


The manual is extensive and closely follows the construction video - they are meant to be used together.  The photos are nice and clear.

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I'll be watching this build too. I've looked at these models and am really curious as to why they use the  unusual method of stitching the model together with copper wire. I'm looking forward to seeing your progress.

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6 minutes ago, BobG said:

really curious as to why they use the  unusual method of stitching the model together with copper wire

This imitates the method used on the full-size boat. The idea is that the model can serve as a kind of inexpensive dry run.

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Thanks for the likes and interest!  Bob, I think that the stitching method may make more sense as the build progresses.


But before that happens, there is some preparation work to be done.  I broke out the four frames and transom, sanded off the laser char, and glued on doublers.



The laser cutting is excellent, very precise, and guide lines for the build are lightly burned on some pieces.  The manual and video say nothing about sanding off the char; however, since many builders varnish the interior rather than painting, charred edges would show up, and I want to leave my options open.  I used PVA glue to attach the doublers. The manual and video use CA exclusively, but I plan to use PVA wherever possible for more adjustment time and easier clean-up.


The transom also has a doubler, with a cutout:


Next, I removed the planking pieces from their sheets and arranged them.


This is a big model of a small boat!  Each plank is in two pieces, connected with a "puzzle joint."  The same is true of the full-size boat kit: the planks wouldn't fit in the shipping crate otherwise.  I'll join the planks with CA glue, but first I need to sand 11 yards of char off the edges, so if you'll excuse me...


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Gluing the puzzle joints is a two-handed operation, leaving no hand for the camera.  There is a small amount of slop in the joint so the pieces need to be held in alignment and flat to the working surface (protected by wax paper).


I bought the CA and accelerator from CLC, along with disposable tips for the glue.  The tips taper down to almost capillary size, allowing the glue to be run into the joint with little or no mess - once you get the hang of it.  A spritz of accelerator and the plank can be set aside.  I did all eight in reasonably quick succession.


These are the first four - I was still figuring it out at this stage. I'll sand the planks thoroughly, then it's time to start assembly.  The puzzle joints will be visible in areas of the boat that aren't painted - this is also true for the full size boats, although they are much less obvious.


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This boat is built using CLC's "LapStitch" method, which you can read about here.  The planks are held in their relative positions by loops of copper wire until they can be epoxied together and to the frames, at which point the loops are cut and removed.  The first step in this stage of model construction is to cut a bunch of 1" pieces of wire, which will be bent into U shapes and used to connect adjoining edges - initially, of the garboard plank and the bottom.


Tightening the loops brings the planks up into their intended shape.



The square-ended pliers (red grips) that I ordered from CLC are perfect for final tightening of the loops.  Then the frames are glued into place, making sure to align each frame with the guidelines etched on the plank.


I placed the wood strips lengthwise to support the bottom while I glued each frame.  Then the bow is stitched together...


...and the transom is stitched to the bottom and the planks.



Gluing the planks to the frames completes installation of these planks.  This is were I encountered my only real problem: the disposable tip came loose a couple of times, spilling CA where I least wanted it.  However, these tips are indispensable for getting a very thin bead of glue into a tight place without slopping it around.  I have learned to be very firm when pressing the tip onto the glue bottle.


From here, installation of the remaining three planks on each side should be relatively straightforward.

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On 5/2/2020 at 12:25 PM, ahb26 said:

I bought the CA and accelerator from CLC, along with disposable tips for the glue.

Hey, Andrew. I don't know if CLC competitively prices there supplies or not, but just for future reference if you need any of those CA applicators, they are commonly sold in hobby shops under several brand names as "Z-Ends."

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The C/A glue from CLC is mfg by Bob Smith Industries in Ataskadero, CA.  They make the best C/A products in my opinion.  They put the customer's name and logo on the bottles thus the CLC name and logo on the bottle.  Bob Smith Ind also makes/supplies the fine tip applicators - the only way to even consider applying C/A directly from the bottle.

The Bob Smith C/A glues are available from many places - just look for the stores name on the bottle - the Bob Smith logo is on the bottom of the label on the back side of the bottle.  Their accelerator is the only accelerator I have ever used that doesn't leave a white residue after use.


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Kurt, that is good to know.  Thanks!


All the planks are now installed.



I did run into a few glitches.  The aft ends of the three upper planks are drilled to be stitched to the transom.


However, since the wire has to be passed around the end of the plank, there is too much wood between the hole and end to allow a tight stitch.  This is not the case with the planks in the instructions and video; at some point, the plank was lengthened beyond the hole, perhaps to be sure the plank extended beyond the transom.  (The first plank does not have this issue and barely reaches the transom.)  I was reluctant to cut back the plank, so I drilled a second hole between the original hole and the end of the plank.  This worked well.



Another problem was at the bow, where a cutout in each plank is supposed to allow the bow ends of the planks to align with each other rather than overlapping.  For reasons unknown, they didn't quite meet, leaving a gap that would be difficult to fill.


I could have glued backing pieces inside the bow, but instead I decided to remove the stitches closest to the bow and glue the overlapping portion of the planks while applying pressure to close the gaps.  This worked - a testament to the strength of the CA glue.


Finally, as I installed the planks, I discovered the second and third frames were not quite aligned with their guide lines.


I must have introduced an almost imperceptible error when I initially glued the frames, which magnified as planks were added.  Nothing to be done about it now, and hopefully no harm done.  If I were to build this kit again, I would experiment with delaying installation of the frames until the second planks had been added.


At this point I have to make some decisions about finish and trim before I move on.  I have pretty much decided to paint, rather than varnish, the interior planks and frames, leaving the thwarts (seats) natural and varnishing them.  I have some mahogany strips left over from Bowdoin that might work well in this model.

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Andrew; I’m definitely not an experienced craftsman but I’ve never seen the twisted brass wire technique. I’ll be following closely. Thank you for sharing this build with us...Moab

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Moving along - I ran a bead of glue along the plank overlaps, working from the outside and trying hard not to let glue run over the plank surfaces. I may have been too careful; some of the overlaps opened up later and had to be re-glued. Next I removed the wire stitches - easier to do than I expected - and filled the holes with MH ReadyPatch. Then I sanded - and filled - and sanded - and filled, ad nauseum. 


Finally got to the point where I needed to get a coat of primer on.  Since I want to varnish the transom, I masked it off inside and out.


A light coat of primer made it clear that I needed to do something about the puzzle joints, especially in the interior.  Fill and sand some more!


With some trepidation, I sprayed the interior color.


For this project, in the spirit of not going out for nonessential items, I am trying to use supplies on hand to the extent possible.  The paint is engine paint - New Ford Gray - left over from an automotive project.  It is good to 500 degrees F in case the dory is caught in a volcanic eruption.


I held off on installing the mast step and daggerboard trunk until after the interior had been sprayed.  Here I have glued them in.


A quick shot of paint will take care of the slivers of bare wood showing.


At this point, I am about 23 hours into my 10-hour project, with a long ways to go.  Exterior paint is next.  Since this is a fun project, I have selected some fun colors from my on-hand collection of spray paint. - we'll see how that works.

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When I first saw your project it really caught my eye. In fact, so much so, that I ordered the same kit..........which arrived today. I started building the NRJ "Generic Sharpie" over a year ago, but haven't done much on it since. I think this project will let me actually get something finished and get my head back in the model boat building game. I've already learned of a couple of pitfalls from your thread, which I'll watch out for.



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Jim, there will be more pitfalls to come, I'm sure - there always are.  But so far things have gone pretty well.


I applied the exterior color over the last couple of days.  First the accent color, which goes on the top plank.  In this photo, the color has been sprayed and the top plank masked in preparation for the rest of the paint.


The paint is "Nissan Orange Mist," more of a copper color actually.  (I originally got it to simulate copper plating on the hull of my "Joe Lane").  Next the main hull color:


This is also engine paint, "Chrysler Blue."  I never used it on an engine, but did paint my granddaughter's skate board with it.  Here's the unmasked result:


Maybe I'll call her the "Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby" (with apologies to Tom Wolfe).  I left a strip bare at the top edge to glue on the rail.


I have also been working on the various parts that will be varnished.  Most I have stained using a natural stain, but a few have a red oak stain.



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Looking good Andrew. I like your colors. I have some green left from a model engine machining project I'm working on that I might use. Probably light gray for the interior of the hull and varnished seats, etc. (unless I do a good enough job to varnish the whole interior..........not likely).


Pitfall #1: I stitched on the left #2 plank before I glued the frames to the bottom and I think that helped with frame alignment. Good call. 👍


Pitfall #2: I was watching for the gap between planks at the bow and can see how that could happen, but so far haven't had any problems with closing the gap between #1 and #2 planks. We'll see how the others go. 


Next up planks #3 and #4.


Lead on! 🙂



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Progress has slowed a bit as I have been applying seemingly endless coats of gloss wipe-on varnish to the thwarts and other bare wood surfaces.  It's my first time working with this stuff and it seems very difficult to get a high-gloss finish, but it's getting better.


I purchased the balanced-lug sail option, which consists of a sail plan and a small sheet of parts to make up the mast partner.  This is a removable piece that supports the mast above its step.  (The standard sloop rig uses shrouds and a forestay, but there are none for the lug rig.)  Here is how it looks trial-fitted to the hull:


I had to deviate a bit from the instructions for tapering the mast, because the opening in the partner is larger than shown on the plan - the same size as the square-section mast.  I cut a tenon in the base of the mast to fit the step -


and will modify the tapering accordingly.


In the full-size boat, the partner is screwed down to the cleats on the hull with hand fasteners having X-shaped handles.  I will make these up from scrapwood and #4 screws but for now I am just using the screws.  I recessed nuts into the bottom side of each cleat -


and screwed the partner to the cleats for another trial fitting, along with the thwarts and other varnished pieces.


Soon I will be able to glue all this in for real.  I plan to add narrow inwales (from leftover strip mahogany) and finally the supplied mahogany rub rails.


The kit includes a nice display stand, which I sanded, assembled and spray-varnished while waiting for the other varnish to dry.



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Looking good Andrew. 


I'm about to the point of needing to spray some paint. I thought the rub rails looked a little clunky. so I tapered them a bit from inside to outside. I also cut them down a little so they won't stick out quite as far. I have the same sail plan as you, so your update really helps. 



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Nice little boat, Andrew.  I am in the midst of building CLC's Annapolis Wherry model which uses a similar construction technique, though is a bit simpler than the dory.  I did not create a build log for it.   I enjoyed your remark about being 23 hours into the 10 hour project....with the wherry, you shape a couple of oars/sculls from two layers of the plywood glued together.  The instructions claimed that while it looks like a lot of work, they can be sanded down to shape in about 20 minutes.   I think it took me a couple hours to do each one. 


I too am trying to just use paint I have on hand to avoid going out any more than needed.  Unfortunately the finish on one side of the wherry will not be quite as nice because I ran out of primer, and the 5 year old rattle can of paint I am using on the hull takes a couple days to dry.  But I think I am close to having it done.

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17 hours ago, Jim T said:

I have the same sail plan as you, so your update really helps. 



If you haven't already done so, you should download the lug rig installation guide (for the full-size boat) from the CLC website.  It'll give you all the details you could want about installing and rigging, details which are nonexistent in the model instructions.  Unfortunately, there is no corresponding standalone guide for the standard sloop rig (although there is a guide for its upgrade kit) - they must be part of the full construction manual.  That manual can be had (paper or PDF) for $15 and would probably be a worthwhile purchase for a modeler interested in maximizing detail.


17 hours ago, gsdpic said:

I am in the midst of building CLC's Annapolis Wherry model which uses a similar construction technique, though is a bit simpler than the dory.  I did not create a build log for it.   I enjoyed your remark about being 23 hours into the 10 hour project....with the wherry, you shape a couple of oars/sculls from two layers of the plywood glued together.  The instructions claimed that while it looks like a lot of work, they can be sanded down to shape in about 20 minutes.   I think it took me a couple hours to do each one.

I love that wherry.  It looks like it means business, long and sleek.  I also have oars to make, but that's in the future.

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This YouTuber has a couple of interesting videos of himself rowing the Annapolis wherry. It is indeed a very nice looking boat, and apparently a good rowing boat as well.


vid 1

vid 2


I feel a little sorry for the kayakers in the second video -- pluggin' away while this guy seems to just glide effortlessly on by.

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Inwales and Outwales

The kit does not include inwales, but I had some lengths of 1/8"x1/16" mahogany left over from Bowdoin that I thought would look nice.  I sanded them, stained with natural stain, and varnished before cutting them to length and gluing them on using carpenter's glue and clamps.


It was difficult to align the strips precisely with the top edges of the planks, and I had to redo a couple of them.  The supplied outwales are approx. 3/32" square mahogany strips, and gluing them on is a challenge.  I started with a short section at the bow attached with CA, holding it in place and trying to keep the alignment with the plank edge.  Once that joint cured completely, I was able to work back a few inches at a time, using CA and clamping with binder clips.  The first side went pretty well.


I had more difficulty with the other side because I messed up the initial alignment - twice - and had to break the joint and try again.  After the third try, things were aligned OK but a bit of a mess.


I plugged the little triangular hole with a bit of 1/16th inch square mahogany, and filled the cracked area with glue and sawdust.  Then I sanded the entire bow area so the rails were flush with the breastplate, and shaped the bow.


The plans and video actually don't bring the rails together in a point - they cut the rails off at the junction of the planks and sand each one to a curve, resulting in a blunt bow.  I like this look better.


At this point the sanded areas have been stained and are awaiting varnish.  This is a good step to have completed.



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Good save on the rub rail Andrew. I also like what you've done at the bow. The inwales add a lot...............I might look at doing that myself.



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Thanks for the comments, the continued interest, and the likes.  It's good to see other members are working on CLC boats or at least interested in them.


I finally built the star knobs that hold the mast partner to its cleats.  They're made up of scrap wood, beheaded #4 brass machine screws, and little collars I made by reducing a section of dowel, drilling out its interior, and cutting two slices.  I was amazed they didn't break in the process.


The instructions for the model say to glue the partner to its cleats, but I wanted it to be removable as it is in the full-size boat.  Once painted black, these knobs are a reasonable approximation of the real thing.


I have also shaped the mast, boom and gaff.  The mast is supplied as a square section strip that needs to be tapered to the top.  The tapering was complicated by a slight curve in the strip, which I oriented fore-and-aft in hopes that it would yield a rakish look.


The top of the mast is drilled for the halyard to pass through - no block required.  (If I had not downloaded the aforementioned lug rig instructions, I would not know this or much of anything else about the rig.)


The boom and gaff are identical-length spars, tapered at each end.  The kit includes square stock to make the boom for the sloop rig, but nothing for the gaff since it is not required for that rig.  To simplify matters, I decided to make the boom and gaff up out of 3/16" hardwood dowel, not worrying about them not being square.  I used my poor man's lathe to make the tapers on each end.


These spars are drilled for outhauls at each end; the halyard and downhaul will simply be tied on.  The spars need varnish but are otherwise ready.


I'm not sure whether to use the supplied white Dacron ripstop material for the sail or to dig into my wife's quilting fabrics.  I haven't done sails for a very long time, if at all.  At least this one is simple.  I'm getting into the area of the build where I'll be trying to figure out how to add interesting details that aren't in the kit - will be a slow process, but should be fun.

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11 hours ago, ahb26 said:

It's good to see other members are working on CLC boats or at least interested in them.

I've had my Sassafras 12 kit in the garage for a few months now. I'm actually a little intimidated by it -- since it's full-sized, I can't simply order another kit if I booger this one.

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Chris, I hope you'll keep a build log for your 1:1 scale canoe kit.


I had thought a lot about how to hang the rudder, and finally the time arrived to do it.  The kit instructions have you make up four eyebolt-like gudgeons from copper wire, two for the rudder and two for the transom, and skewer them with a length of wire.  Quick and easy, but the real boat uses a traditional (if utilitarian) pintle-and-gudgeon arrangement, and I wanted to do that instead.  I lucked out in that my Bowdoin kit included a length of brass tube and a similar length of brass rod that fit the tube, neither of which I used and which proved perfect for this job.  I lacked sheet brass (or thought I did; I believe I have some shim stock stashed somewhere) to make up the brackets, but it happened that I received a fancy bottle of whiskey for my birthday featuring an ornamental belt that appeared to be made of a coppery metal.  After finishing the whiskey, I had scavenged the belt in case it might come in handy.


Sure enough, after sanding off the clearcoat, the metal proved eminently solderable.  I was in business.  I made up a simple jig to solder the rod square to the strips for the pintles -


I have done a lot of electrical soldering and sweated a few pipe junctions over the years, but not this kind of work.  I was pleased to find some lead-free solder and flux in my soldering box, and my iron was able to melt it. 


The joints were sound but needed a lot of filing.  I used a similar set-up to solder brass tube sections to strips for the gudgeons.


Bending the pintle brackets to get the correct stand-off from the edge of the rudder, and getting everything aligned, was tricky.


It was trickier to glue the brackets into place because of the difficulty of getting the right amount of CA under the strip.  I had to repaint part of the painted area due to excess glue.  Once the strips were in place, I drilled them and ran brass wire (also from Bowdoin) through the holes, with a little CA.  When snipped flush, the wire looks a bit like bolt heads, and it helps to secure the strips.


The gudgeons were easier to glue into place; the challenge was in getting them perfectly aligned with each other and with the center of the transom.


In the end, everything lined up. 


I'm pleased to have old-timey brass fittings here - the more bling on this boat, the better!  I will attempt to use what is left of the strip stock to make two functioning blocks for the sheet, the only blocks on the boat.

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